Worker's Compensation and disability benefits are generally no laughing matter, but I had to smile a bit when I saw this article today. It concerns an 18-year employee of National Fuel, which provides gas to New York and Pennsylvania. The employee filed a claim two years after retiring saying that she had suffered from long-term exposure to noise while on the job. The noise? Customers yelling in her ear as she answered phones all day long.
She won "in front of a Workers' Compensation Board — but that ruling was later overturned on appeal from the employer" because she didn't spend all day, every day on the phone listening to such severe levels of noise.
I smiled at this not because I want to belittle the person's suffering but because, well, sometimes it feels like I deal with yelling all day long, too. It just would never occur to me to blame something like hearing loss on it.
I was curious about the numbers behind the case. According to this article, a person speaking normally is about 45 decibels. Yelling is around 75. A sound needs to be around 85 decibels to cause permanent damage to hearing. I shudder to think of what it would be like to spend 8 hours a day listening to extremely loud yelling - good thing the majority of us do not have to.